Canada

Voters support Vancouver Olympic bid

Vancouver plebiscite supports 2010 Winter Olympics.

Nearly two-thirds of Vancouver voters said "yes" Saturday to hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics.

A record number of eligible voters turned out, as 86,113 people said they supported Vancouver hosting the Olympic Games and 48,651 said they didn't.

Voter turnout was heavy right up until the polls closed. More people voted in this plebiscite than any other in the city's history. Almost 135,000 people, or 46 per cent of eligible voters, cast a ballot.

Of 134,791 ballots cast, 64 per cent were in favour, 36 per cent against. The results of the vote are non-binding.

"This shows the determination on (Vancouver residents') part to win the Games," said Mayor Larry Campbell, adding voter turnout was "absolutely outstanding."

"The results are decisive," added Campbell. "It's a powerful 'yes' to the International Olympic Committee. We still want the Games (and) I'm positive we'll get the Games."

The plebiscite was the mayor's idea. Campbell went ahead with it despite warnings it was too late in the bid. It also cost taxpayers almost $600,000.

"I'd have spent a million if I had to," he said. "We're talking about democracy here. I'm sick and tired of people saying there's a price to be paid for democracy."

Premier Gordon Campbell was pushing for a "yes" vote; he's been telling people the Games will generate "billions of dollars of economic activity."

However, Chris Shaw of the "No Games 2010 Coalition" said his group believes the Olympics will strain the public treasury.

Only Vancouver residents were eligible to vote.

"It's not over yet by any standard," said Shaw. "It won't be over until all the people of the province get a vote and a fair question in a binding referendum."

Vancouver is one of three cities vying for the Games. The others are Salzburg, Austria, and Pyeongchang in South Korea.

The International Olympic Committee's evaluation team be in Vancouver at the beginning of March. It will make its final decision on the winning bid in July.